Described as a “pure chamber musician” (The Globe and Mail) creating “moments of pure magic” (The Toronto Star), Canadian cellist Rachel Mercer has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across five continents. Grand prize-winner of the 2001 Vriendenkrans Competition in Amsterdam, she was cellist of the Aviv String Quartet from 2002–2010. An active chamber musician, she currently plays with piano quartet Ensemble Made in Canada, the Mercer-Park Duo, and the AYR Piano Trio with violinist Yehonatan Berick and pianist Angela Park. Mercer is also the Artistic Director of the 5 at the First Chamber Music Series in Hamilton.
Principal Cello of the NAC Orchestra, Mercer was featured in the Orchestra’s 50th Anniversary concert last September. This month, she appears with the ensemble as soloist for the premiere of Stewart Goodyear’s Cello Concerto and plays in the NAC’s Music for a Sunday Afternoon series, as she has done several times before.
Mercer regularly gives masterclasses and talks on topics from performance to self-management. An advocate for new Canadian music, she has commissioned over 25 works including a cello concerto by Kevin Lau. Her most recent album features six works by female Canadian composers on the Centrediscs label. Her first article, on commissioning, was published in 2018 in the Association of Canadian Women Composers Journal.Read full NAC bio ›
Angela Park has established herself as one of Canada’s most sought-after pianists. Praised for performing “with such brilliant clarity it took your breath away” (Chapala, Mexico), her versatility as both soloist and chamber musician has led to performances across Canada, as well as in the United States, Europe, Japan and Mexico.
Park has performed for such notable series as Montreal’s Pro Musica, Ottawa Chamberfest and the Northern Lights Music Festival in Mexico. She is a founding member of the award-winning Ensemble Made In Canada, Mercer-Park Duo and the AYR Trio. She is also an artist for Piano Six – New Generation, an organization that brings world-class pianists to remote communities across Canada. Today’s concert marks her Music for a Sunday Afternoon debut.
Recent and upcoming seasons include a world premiere of John Burge’s Second Piano Concerto with Sinfonia Toronto, and collaborative recitals at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. She has recorded solo albums, as well as collaborative discs with cellist Rachel Mercer and Ensemble Made In Canada, for various labels including NAXOS Canadian Classics and Centrediscs.
Angela Park is Assistant Professor of Piano at Western University and, since 2014, the Artist-in-Residence with Ensemble Made In Canada.
Yosuke Kawasaki currently serves as Concertmaster of the NAC Orchestra in Canada. His versatile musicianship allows him to pursue a career in orchestra, solo and chamber music. His orchestral career began with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and soon led to Mito Chamber Orchestra, Saito Kinen Orchestra and Japan Century Orchestra all of which he led as Concertmaster. His solo and chamber music career spans five continents, collaborating with artists such as Seiji Ozawa, Pinchas Zukerman and Yo-Yo Ma and appearing in the world's most prestigious halls such as Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall and The Royal Concertgebouw.
Kawasaki's most current ensembles are Trio Ink and the Arkas String Quartet. His passion for chamber music led him to create the short lived Classical Unbound Festival in Prince Edward County, Ontario, which he served as Co-Artistic Director. Subsequently, he has been appointed Music Director to the Affinis Music Festival in Japan. He is also an artistic advisor to a brand new chamber music festival in Bulgaria called The Unbeaten Path.
As an educator Kawasaki has given masterclasses and performed side by side with students in schools across Canada. Well versed in the string quartet literature he was entrusted by Seiji Ozawa as the youngest faculty member of the Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy at the age of 26. He is currently an adjunct professor of violin at the University of Ottawa.
Mr. Kawasaki began his violin studies at the age of six with his father Masao Kawasaki and continued with Setsu Goto. At the age of ten he was accepted into The Juilliard School Pre-College Division and further continued his education and graduated from The Juilliard School in 1998 under the tutorship of Dorothy DeLay, Hyo Kang, Felix Galimir and Joel Smirnoff.
Vancouver-born violist Jethro Marks was appointed Principal viola of the National Arts Center Orchestra in Spring 2011. He has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, China, Mexico, Europe, and Canada, and is a frequent collaborator with many artists and ensembles. Jethro is first violist of the Zukerman ChamberPlayers, a string ensemble led by Pinchas Zukerman that has completed highly acclaimed tours of festivals in Canada, the U.S., Europe, China, South America and New Zealand. The ensemble released its fourth CD in 2008.
One of five brothers growing up in a musical family, Jethro first studied violin with his father, who played in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. While attending Indiana University at Bloomington, he became intrigued by the rich, dark sound of the viola. He began to switch his focus and started studying with violist Atar Arad. Awards included first prize in the Kuttner Quartet Competition, first prize in the Concerto Competition, and receiving the prestigious Performers Certificate. In 1998, Jethro Marks was accepted into the Zukerman Program at the Manhattan School of Music as the only violist and he won first prize in the MSM Concerto Competition. Jethro first participated in the National Arts Centre’s Young Artists Program in 1999, returning the following summer. He returned to the NAC Summer Music Institute in 2000 and 2001 as a mentor and he made his CBC Radio debut in 2003 performing the Paganini 24th caprice on viola.
An avid chamber musician, has collaborated with some of the most illustrious artists and chamber groups of our day including Leon Fleisher, Lynn Harrell, Gary Hoffman, Jaime Laredo, Michael Tree, Itzhak Perlman, Yefim Bronfman, Emanual Ax, and the Orion Quartet, and has participated in festivals around the world including the Verbier Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Festival de musique de St. Barthelemy, Banff Festival of the Arts, Lanaudière Festival, Agassiz Festival, Ravinia Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood Festival, Musica Mundi in Belgium, Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, and Mostly Mozart, as well as the 92nd St. Y, Jupiter and Lyric Chamber Music Societies in New York City. Jethro is frequently featured in chamber music concerts in the National Arts Centre MFASA series, as well as the Ottawa Chamber Music Festivals.
His solo debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra was in 2004 playing Harold in Italy and in 2007 he premiered the Steven Gellman Viola Concerto with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. In 2014 he performed the Malcolm Forsyth concerto with cellist Amanda Forsyth. He is a frequent collaborator with Ottawa pianist Mauro Bertoli, and play numorous recitals throughout Canada. He's joining the faculty of the University of Ottawa in Sept. 2015.
Stewart Goodyear has been performing at the National Arts Centre since the age of 12. By then he had already been playing the piano for almost a decade, having discovered the instrument at the age of three. It was his father’s collection of LPs, which included much Beethoven, that sparked his keen mind and sent him in the direction of a musical career. By four, he was playing by ear on a toy piano. At 11, he won the Canadian Music Competition, at thirteen he performed his first concerto (Shostakovich No. 1) with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. At 15, Goodyear graduated from the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where he studied with James Anagnoson. Subsequent study took him to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he studied with Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman and Claude Frank, and to The Juilliard School in New York, where he studied with Oxana Yablonskaya and earned his Master’s degree in piano performance.
Goodyear is renowned for his signature marathon event: performing all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in a single day. This he has done at several venues, including Toronto’s Koerner Hall. His recording of the complete cycle received a JUNO nomination for Best Classical Solo Recording in 2014. Goodyear is also known as an improviser, arranger and composer. He invents his own cadenzas on the spot when performing concertos of the classical period, just as all pianists did in that age, every one different. As an arranger, he has transcribed Tchaikovsky’s complete Nutcracker ballet for solo piano. Goodyear has been composing since the age of eight and has more than a dozen works to his credit, including those with such intriguing titles as Baby Shark Fugue, Count Up, Dogged by Hell Hounds and Callaloo (his orchestral tribute to Trinidad, where half his family grew up); and others with traditional titles like Piano Sonata (first performed at his graduation recital at Curtis), Piano Concerto and Cello Concerto (to be premiered by the NAC Orchestra’s principal cellist, Rachel Mercer, on February 14, 2020).
Goodyear’s discography includes his Nutcracker arrangement as well as his Piano Sonata and Callaloo, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, a Ravel program, American works (including both of Gershwin’s Rhapsodies), concertos by Grieg, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, and, most recently, For Glenn Gould, which recreates Gould’s 1955 U.S. debut program.